Make sure you are safe and phone the police if you are in immediate danger. Go to a friend or neighbour to stay safe.
The time after a sexual assault is very confusing and decisions are difficult. There are no right answers, only what is right for you. Talk to someone you trust, or call a sexual assault crisis line to help you make sense of what has happened, and decide what to do next.
Talking with someone who is trained in sexual assault response can be very helpful as the advocate or counsellor will provide you with suggestions and options that you may not have thought of. Counsellors and advocate volunteers on the crisis lines will listen to you and not judge you - they are concerned about your well-being and will provide ideas and options so that you can decide what you want to do.
If able, seek medical attention from a hospital right away. Some hospitals have specialized Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE nurses) or doctors who are trained in assessing for internal injuries that you cannot see or feel; testing for sexually transmitted infections; taking a urine sample to detect the presence of a sedating substance; and for females discussing the potential of pregnancy and how to avoid it with the Morning After Pill. It is important to get treatment within 72 hours.
Depending upon community supports in your area, the SANE nurse or doctor will ask if you want a trained sexual assault advocate to come to the hospital and support you through the evidence gathering process. Most survivors and their family members value the support and resources an advocate provides through the difficult time.
Reporting to the Police
Depending upon the situation, you may have involved the police before going to the hospital, or contacted them while at the hospital - or you may be unsure if you want them at all.
Before going to the hospital
If you are at the scene and want to involve police and file a report before you go to the hospital, do so as soon as possible to preserve evidence. Do not shower, wash, bathe, douche, change or destroy your clothes. Do not straighten up or alter the area where the assault occurred until medical and legal evidence has been collected. The police will ask you for a detailed statement about the assault. After examining the scene, the police may take you to a hospital where any evidence on you will be collected by the SANE nurse or doctor, and any injuries will be treated.
At the hospital
The police may either meet you at the hospital, or the SANE nurse or doctor may call the police to come on your behalf. If you desire, they may also contact the sexual assault advocate if your area has one. Evidence gathered by the hospital staff will be given to the police who will ask you for a detailed statement about the assault.
Some women feel exhausted going through the medical process, while others feel personally validated as they regain a sense of control and recover from the shock of the assault. Either way, accurate information and evidence needs to be gathered in an effort to effectively charge and convict the perpetrator.
After evidence collection
Depending upon the situation, you may need to be available to the police for other aspects of the police investigation such as identifying the crime scene or the perpetrator. Once the suspect is charged with the sexual assault, you must attend a preliminary hearing to decide if there is enough evidence for trial. An advocate may be able to support you through the court process as well.
you are not responsible for:
If you are not able to get medical attention right away or contact the police, save as much evidence as you can:
Know that it is natural to feel "dirty" after an assault and you will likely want to shower right away and throw away your clothes - but without evidence, a charge against the perpetrator may not happen.
Contact trustworthy people that you were with before, during or after the assault and ask them to write down what they saw or heard. Make sure they are objective so as to be considered a credible witness.
Healing through counselling
Talk with a counsellor (either in person or through a crisis phone line) who is trained in sexual assault support and understands how to work through the many emotions that you are feeling. Fear, guilt and shame are all normal feelings that will come to you after the initial shock is over.
Know that it takes time to emotionally heal, and your journey may have some ups and downs as you work through your feelings - it is normal to be confused, frustrated, sad and even happy through the process. Above all, remember that the assault was not your fault - and the sooner you talk about it the sooner you will feel better.
, the court process and the healing journey.
Anonymous Reporting and Third Option **** Ask if this is available in your area
Anonymous Reporting means the survivor can provide anonymous information to a designated community agency (e.g., Sexual Assault Centre) about a sexual assault. Then, without disclosing the victims’ name, this information is passed onto the police for general information purposes.
Third Option means that rather than being restricted to “Yes, I will report” or “No, I do not want to report,” the survivor has the option to say: “Maybe, but I need time to think about it.” Forensic evidence is then collected, documented, and stored, giving victims the opportunity to turn the evidence over to the police at a later date.